But even as Cruz’s importance in the series grew -- she is now filming season 4 -- music never went away.
Now, Cruz is in the midst of recording original material with her band, Crosby Street, which plays music with a “bluesy, Chicago vibe,” in her own words.
But she’s also added some Selena (Quintanilla, not Gomez) to the mix with her acoustic, intimate version of “Como la Flor.”
“She’s one of my biggest idols,” says Cruz. “And her music still lives on. I picked that song because it just reminds me a lot of a relationship I had in the past and it’s something I really connect to. The song is about losing a love and you’re still happy for him even though he found happiness with someone else.”
There’s a lot for Cruz to connect to in the “Como la Flor” video, directed by Sebastian Sdaigui, who decided he wanted to incorporate a lot of Cruz’s own life into the video.
The video (financed by Vivala, a website for millennial Latinas) was shot at The Garret West, the New York City bar that’s a sister spot to The Garret East, which opens this week and where Cruz is a partner.
The cute guy in the video? That’s Cruz’s real-life boyfriend, actor and artist Fernando Garcia.
“He’s my video ho!” Cruz jokes. “He works at The Garret East as a mixologist. And he’s also a painter. So what you see is basically our life.”
Except there's no heartache or breakup as there is in the video, which was produced Alanna Harrington from Good For Nothing Films.
Up in the air is if Cruz will sing in Orange Is the New Black or if “Como la Flor” will someday make an appearance on the series. What we do know is, Flaca loves '80s rock, while Cruz is more of a Janis Joplin, Elvis Costello kind of girl.
But, says Cruz, the show’s script writers “write as they go. Maybe one day I’ll get to sing in the show and it would be amazing. Flaca has ambitions.”
Watch Cruz sing "Como la Flor" above in a Billboard exclusive premiere.